Global Valley

1837.06.16 - Elizabeth Huntington to Edward Huntington, Jun. 16th, 1837

Dublin Core


1837.06.16 - Elizabeth Huntington to Edward Huntington, Jun. 16th, 1837


A very newsy letter full, as Elizabeth writes, of "gadding." She chides Edward for his business worries, reports on a meeting of a religious association at the house, visits to friends in Deerfield, the girls inviting a party to the house, an upcoming wedding, and news of distant siblings (the Fishers in Oswego NY and William in Toledo OH). Elizabeth reports on spontaneously staying out late to attend an anti-slavery lecture by James Birney. She criticizes the political apathy of the community and expresses strong abolitionist sentiments. She shares home news of work building a house for Theophilus and planting mulberry seeds. At the end of the letter she turns from all these worldly concerns to "the heavenly inheritance."


Elizabeth Whiting Phelps Huntington


Porter-Phelps-Huntington Family Papers (Box 12 Folder 4)
Amherst College Archives and Special Collections




Courtesy of the Porter-Phelps-Huntington Foundation
For permissions contact Amherst College Archives and Special Collections





Elm Valley June 16th 1837 -

Dear Edward,

Yours of the 12th to your father was received yesterday. From that, I should think that your connexion with Hunter would probably close soon. If so I shall hope that one good [e]ffect of it will be to bring you home. It is quite time for you to make us a visit, and let business be suspended for the present.

We have had a very busy week so far. Monday the Association[1] met here. Doct. Willard, Mr. Fenender. Mr. Hading and Mr. Rogers[2] came that day - in the evening we had religious excercises as usual, sermon by Mr. Fenender[3]. Next morning before breakfast Mr. H, Mr. Everett of Northfield[4] and Mr. Bullfinch[5] who is preaching for Mr. Harris joined them. Fredric got back[6] to stay till Tuesday and woe had his company also and his assistance. They all left after dinner.[7] I hope their consultations may promote the cause which it is their familiar business to defend and advance.[8] Tuesday afternoon your father having business in town[9], I made a short visit to Martha[10], her health has been much impaired this spring but she is getting better[11], and has gone to Cummington[12] for a few days to visit Mrs. Groff[13].

To keep up the sum of gadding, I rode[14] the next day to Hatfield[15] with your father, who has a great desire to see the widow ____, and for fear of intruding upon his visit with the ladies, I spent the time with Maria Partridge[16]. There I found George her brother[17], and tutor Park, who had walked over for exercise[18]. We went from there to N_ [Northampton], drank tea at Charles'[19], and found that Mr. Birney[20] was to deliver an anti-slavery[21] lecture that evening; the temptation was so great that we staid and did not make home till almost eleven[22]. Just below the sycamore tree[23], we met Theodore, who to calm the minds of the girls[24] had mounted Dicky and was riding full speed to finish us up. We were much gratified with the address, but there is great apathy upon this subject in this part of the country.[25] A few here and there seem to realise something of the abomination, which are inseparable from this system of slavery, and many I doubt not, who have not power to do much, are content in their supplications to the Father of mercies that he would break every yoke, and let the offended go free.[26]

Wyman Smith came on yesterday and made a beginning upon Theopholis' house [MU1]Mr. Collins[27] and his men are to begin next week upon the cellar.

To finish the journal[28] for the week, the girls have invited their young friends for this evening, but a dark cloud has overspread the horizon and a gentle rain seems to be falling from it which may defeat the plan entirely. Our men have all gone to this mountain today, and woe be to the weeds among the corn.[29] –

Charles has furnished your brother with marlberry seed[30] to a considerable amount; [several lines of writing crossed out] Mr. Fischer[31] has not returned from Oswego, but is expected this week. Elizabeth [32] has gone to Deerfield to attend Ms. Lincoln's school[33].

We received a letter from William today dated Toledo? ____. He says there is a great door and effectual open?, and there are many adversaries. The people are anxious that he should remain with them a year. This he can not do, but he would gladly get a society established upon a firm foundation.

And now is there another fragment of news untold. Oh yes Robert[35] ____ is to be married next Tuesday.

But let us not close this interview[36] with out one look at the better world, the heavenly inheritance. Thanks to God, that when earthly prospects prove delusion, we may with the most assured hope, fix our affections upon a portion which no earthly power can wrest from us.

The dream of this life will soon be over, it may be very soon. To teach our dear departed Whiting and Catherine[37]. And let them not speak to us in vain. May our devotion to God be so constant and entire, that death may be a welcome messanger, to bear us to our Father's house and our friends in heaven, Most truly your affectionate mother Elizabeth -

Thursday- I have been keeping this, hoping to be able to copy it and send something a little more suitable and less unworthy, but not having time I send it with all its imperfections– your's to Theodore came yesterday- your plan for the Edwards’ plan [place?] I think you would like. You had better renounce the hopes of riches - and enjoy with contentment and labor the common blessings of Providence which are furnished for us in abundance -

1 What Association? Elizabeth's husband Dan was licensed to preach by the Berkshire Association of Congregational Ministers. (

2 Are these friends from their Unitarian congregation?

3 Who is this?

4 How did he get to Northfield?

5 Revered Stephen Bullfinch, husband of Caroline Phelps Bullfinch, Dan and Elizabeth's niece (

6 Got back from where? He was probably living on campus.

7 Was James also a student at Amherst College? Did they go back to the College after dinner?

8 I don't understand what she is saying in this sentence. Is she referring to their studies at Amherst?

9 What kind of business? Maybe a religious gathering or meeting?

10 Who is Martha?

11 What kind of impairment? Perhaps something that could be easily remedied today?

12 A small town about 22 miles northwest of Hadley.

13 Who is this?

14 Rode in what?

15 A town about 7 miles northwest of Hadley.

16 Found a Maria Partridge Dickinson (birth, 1797) from Hampshire County, Mass on Ancestry. (

17 According to Geni, Maria Partridge Dickinson had a brother named George Dickinson who was born in 1815 (

18 Interesting.

19 What is this place? What is New Frank?

20 This is James G. Birney!!! The famous abolitionist, Kentucky politician and creator of The Philanthropist (1836), an abolitionist weekly publication in Cincinnati, Ohio. Birney was actually travelling through New York and New England, in May and June of 1837. General Birney, Birney's sons, says of his father: "Mr. Birney's chief object had been to restore harmony among Anti-slavery leaders on doctrines and measures, and especially to check a tendency, already marked in Massachusetts, to burden the cause with irrelevant reforms, real or supposed. With this view he had attended the New England Anti-slavery Convention held at Boston, May 30 to June 2 inclusive, accepted the position of one of its vice-presidents, and acted as a member of its committee on business. Rev. Henry C. Wright, the leader of the No-Human-Government, Woman's-Rights, and Moral-Reform factions, was a member of the Convention, but received no appointment of any committee. On June 23, in the Liberator [his newspaper], Mr. Garrison denounced human governments. July 4, he spoke at Providence, as if approvingly, of the overthrow of the Nation, the dismemberment of the Union, and the dashing in pieces of the Church. July 15, an association of Congregational ministers issued a pastoral letter against the new doctrines. August 2, five clergymen, claiming to represent nine tenths of the abolitionists of Massachusetts, published on appeal which was directed more especially against the course of the Liberator. August 3, the abolitionist of Andover Theological Seminary issued a similar appeal. Among the complaints were some against speculations that lead inevitably to disorganization, anarchy, unsettling the domestic economy, removing the landmarks of society, and unhinging the machinery of government. A new Anti-slavery society in Bangor passed the following resolution: That, while we admit the right of full and free discussion of all subjects, yet, in our judgment, individuals rejecting the authority of civil and parental governments ought not to be employed as agents and lecturers in promoting the cause of emancipation" (

21 The first anti-slavery society was established in New York in 1831. It became a national organization two years later. Its main supporters were from religious groups such as the Quakers and from the free black community (

22 She must have been interested in anti-slavery issues, or the lecture was just riveting, or both. Elizabeth Whiting Phelps Huntington actually wrote a letter to William Lloyd Garrison (founder of New England Anti-Slavery Society) on January 22, 1834 (Amherst College--PPH Collection, Box 12, Folder 20)

23 Could this be the sycamore tree of the Deerfield Academy? (

24 Which girls?

25 The New England Anti-Slavery Society was formed in 1831 by William Lloyd Garrison and based in Boston. Members of the NE Anti-slavery Society supported immediate abolition and viewed slavery as immoral and non-Christian. "The society sponsored lecturers or "agents" who traveled throughout the New England are, speaking in local churches or halls, and also selling abolitionist tracts... Whenever possible, the Society's agents would also encourage the formation of local anti-slavery societies. By 1833 there were 47 local societies in ten northern states, 33 of them in New England" ( There was no public local anti-slavery society in the Valley.

26 Anti-slavery movement largely driven by religious influences.

27 Who is this?

28 Which journal?

29 What is she talking about here?

30 Marlberry is also known as marbleberry and dogberry. Marlberry is somewhat common in the coastal hammocks and pinelands of south Florida and the Keys. It occasionally is found as far north as Flager County in Florida. Usually an understory species, marlberry grows in the shade of taller trees such as pines and cabbage palm throughout its range that includes, besides Florida, the West Indies, Mexico, and Guatemala. Native Americans in Florida called this tree, the black tobacco-seasoning tree, because they mixed its leaves with their tobacco to make it go further. The tart, acidic fruit is edible but unappealing to people. It is useful to birds, squirrels, and other mammals gathering food ( How was this relevant to Elizabeth and Edward? I think this is mistaken information. She is more likely referring to mulberry. Mulberry would be more significant here because it not only could be used as an edible berry and as a medicine, but also to feed silk worms, with silk being one of the first industries to come to Northampton during the early industrial period.

31 Who is this? Could it be George Fisher, Elizabeth's second child's husband (Elizabeth Porter Huntington Fisher's –1803-1897– husband). The Fishers lived in Oswego, NY for most of their lives. George Fisher was the president of the North West Insurance Company.

32 Elizabeth Fisher?

33 What school is this?

35 Who is Robert?

36 "Interview" here may be referring to this letter.

37 She may be referring to her late daughter Catherine. "Catherine, the tenth child of Dan and Elizabeth Huntington, was born in the house at "Forty Acres" in Hadley on May 8, 1817. She grew up there, but died at the age of 13 on August 15, 1830, after a two month bout with typhous fever. Catherine was the first of the eleven Huntington children to die and this was a tragic event for the family" ( Thus the reference to death.